In September 2005, Rockford resident Dean Vandermey, of Set Free Ministries (SFM), had traveled to rural southern Uganda to hold a conference for some local pastors. During the morning session, a group of 42 orphan children sat nearby, quietly observing. When Vandermey asked the pastors why the children had come, he was informed that they had come because they heard lunch would be served.
Vandermey wondered why the children were not in school. The pastors informed him there was no school for them to attend. This astounded Vandermey, and he asked how much a teacher for the children would cost. He was told $100 per month. Vandermey offered that SFM would pay for one Christian teacher if the local church would start a school and allow use of the church. Thus was born Glory of Christ Primary School in Rakai District, which today has over five hundred students!
“As you may know, I have been working with Set Free Ministries in their sponsorship of nine different groups of school children and the schools they attend in Uganda and Kenya,” explained Richard Borisch, a lifelong Rockford resident.
SFM is now helping over 3,500 children. Nearly all of these students are AIDS orphans and vulnerable children. Some have lost both parents and now are left to care for younger siblings.
The schools are located in rural areas and have been started by local Christians who have taken seriously the Biblical command to care for widows and orphans.
The children love being able to attend a Christian school, even though classes are held in temporary structures.
The schools are operating at very basic levels. Funding currently covers teachers’ salaries, a porridge breakfast drink for the children, and a lunch of beans and rice on school days.
An important goal for the schools is increased sustainability. The schools need to be involved with income-producing projects which will help them care for students, build permanent cement school structures and strengthen their communities. In discussions with the schools’ leaders, they have informed us that raising goats is a good project for improving sustainability.
One of the sustainability projects being undertaken by SFM this summer is the purchase and placement of goatherds for each school. Each planned herd will consist of 100 goats. The schools are favoring goats for many reasons:
• Goats are very easy to care for.
• A goat can be purchased locally near the schools for $39.
• A female goat produces three offspring per year.
• The schools will be able to build a herd that, in 12 months, will still be still be growing and sustainable.
• The goats will provide milk and meat for the school children.
• As the heard grows, goats can be sold to provide funding for the schools’ operation.
• The school will be able to use the goats to train students in animal husbandry.
• The school can provide goats to trained students to start their own goat business.
As a fundraising event, Borisch will be climbing Long’s Peak, the highest summit in Rocky Mountain National Park. From the trailhead to the top and back is a 12-hour round trip, reaching an elevation of 14,200 feet. He will be accompanied by one or two family members. In preparation for this event, he is a member at MVP, Rockford, working with trainer Ben Furey.
“I am asking interested folks to pledge funding for one or more goats for this climb. Funds raised by the event will be used to purchase the goats [kids] for the African schools that serve these AIDS orphans and vulnerable children [kids],” Borisch said. “I have personally visited these schools several times and have been involved in providing funding for their operation. Victorious Primary School, also in Rakai District, has already started a small goatherd on the school land. They are hoping to expand the operation.”
There are several ways to give a tax-deductible donation for this goat project: People can donate directly to Vandermey, who will deposit it with SFM. Donations can be by check to Set Free Ministries, indicating “goat project” on the memo line. Please send checks directly to Set Free Ministries, 700 36th St. SE, Suite 108, Grand Rapids, MI 49548. Donations can also be made online using a credit card at www.setfreeministries.com and clicking on “donate now,” then click on “apply my donation to” and choose “goat project.”
Additionally, Borisch encourages people to share this project with friends and family who they feel might be interested in helping. For those on Facebook, he welcomes a mention of the fundraiser there to reach others.
“Prayers for my fundraising climb will be deeply appreciated. Funds raised beyond our $35,100 goal will be applied to other urgent needs of the children,” Borisch stated.